Tense pages hard-focused on aerial hardware as Brown pumps it up for fans—who know what they’re getting.

AIR BATTLE FORCE

Old Dog Brown brings back his favorite technothriller heroes for what will likely be their 15th consecutive assault on the bestseller list, despite ever more unwieldy plots, laboriously detailed fantastic weapons, and bombastic action sequences.

Forcibly retired US Air Force General Patrick McLanahan (Wings of Fire, 2002, etc.) and his unsanctioned Night Stalker special ops corps of freelance commandos (who work outside the government) have saved the world several times over from total destruction and always win the biggest stakes on the table. What is an Air Battle Force? Well, former child prodigy aeronautical and space engineer Jon Masters has devised the Vampire bomber, which carries StealthHawk Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles within it. McLanahan leads the 1st Vampire Squadron, and StealthHawks are the leading edge of the force he and Wing Commander Rebecca Furness use to launch a counterattack against Afghan Captain Wakil Mohammad Zarazi’s Taliban troops, who capture a UN Afghan Relief and Rehabilitation unit in Northern Afghanistan. Air Battle Force is the future of air warfare and in part consists of robot warplanes launched from the Vampire bomber. Flying a B-1 over air space congruent to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan, McLanahan loses a robot plane and goes searching for it through various hostile radars and air defense systems while running almost on empty. As it happens, the Turkmenistan oil fields have become the prime target of Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces no longer safe in Afghanistan. The novel bomber makes a pancake landing, skipping off the ocean onto a beach. The technoclimax comes with the Vampire in a dogfight while attacking an airbase in the Russian Federation.

Tense pages hard-focused on aerial hardware as Brown pumps it up for fans—who know what they’re getting.

Pub Date: May 13, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009409-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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